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e a group of handicappers in-house and they come up with the line as a group but, basically, its on fe

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Fargo, ND (SportsNetwork. NHL Jerseys 2020 .com) - Whew! North Dakota States reign as the three-time FCS national champion was pushed to the limit by South Dakota State on Saturday, but freshman R.J. Urzendowskis second touchdown reception of the game with 54 seconds left lifted the second- seeded Bison to a 27-24 win in the second round of the playoffs Saturday. Urzendowski caught a 12-yard fade pattern from quarterback Carson Wentz to erase South Dakota States go-ahead touchdown just minutes earlier and send North Dakota State (12-1) to next weekends national quarterfinals, where they will host seventh-seeded Coastal Carolina (12-1). A year ago, NDSU eliminated Coastal, 48-14, in the quarterfinals. Before South Dakota State fell for the seventh straight time to Missouri Valley Football Conference rival North Dakota State, the Jackrabbits (9-5) thought they might have a stunning upset. Quarterback Austin Sumners 3-yard touchdown pass to freshman Jake Wieneke with 3:18 left put the visitors ahead, 24-20. But the Bison drove 76 yards in eight plays, helped by a pass interference that moved the ball 14 yards to the South Dakota State 7. After Wentz threw an incompletion and the Bison were moved back five yards by a false start, Wentz faked a handoff to John Crockett and lofted the game-winning pass over SDSU cornerback Dallas Brown and into the hands of the 6-foot Urzendowski just inside the end zone. On the first play of South Dakota States ensuing possession, Tre Dempsey intercepted Sumner at the Jackrabbits 25 to put North Dakota States escape on ice. The Bison overcame South Dakota State senior running back Zach Zenner, who rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns while becoming the first player in NCAA history to surpass 2,000 yards in a season for a third time. He finished the season with 2,019 yards. Zenner kept South Dakota States go-ahead drive alive with a 5-yard run on 4th- and-2 at the Bison 32. The Jackrabbits scored when Sumner faked a handoff to Zenner and fired a quick slant to Wieneke in the Bison end zone with 3:18 left to play. North Dakota State built a 14-0 lead in the first half as Wentz fired a 27-yard touchdown pass to Urzendowski and then ran in a 27-yard score. Urzendowski finished with four receptions for 109 yards. Crockett rushed for 102 yards on 23 carries and Wentz had 70 yards on 13 carries. South Dakota State fought back to tie the game 14-14 before halftime on two Zenner touchdown runs in the second quarter. Justin Syrovatkas 33-yard field goal at the 6:43 mark of the third quarter put the Jackrabbits ahead 17-14, but NDSUs Adam Keller countered with two field goals and the Bison went back ahead 20-17. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Coastal Carolina 36, Richmond 15 Conway, SC - Coastal Carolina could have stewed for the last two weeks over a blocked field goal attempt on the final play of the regular season, which spoiled its perfect record. Instead, the Chanticleers went out and did something about. Seventh-seeded Coastal took its frustration out on Richmond with a 36-15 rout in the second round. Coastal (12-1) will travel to second-seeded North Dakota State for the national quarterfinals next weekend. A year ago, the Chanticleers fell to NDSU, 48-14, in the final eight. The only blemish on Coastals record was the 15-14 loss to Liberty to end the regular season on Nov. 22. The Chanticleers had a 24-yard chip shot blocked to end that game and were forced to share the Big South Conference title with Liberty. But coach Joe Moglias squad, coming off a first-round bye, played with focus in ending Richmonds season one week after the visiting Spiders (9-5) eliminated Morgan State from the playoffs. The Chanticleers rushed for 316 yards to overcome Richmond quarterback Michael Strauss 402 passing yards. Coastal Carolina clung to a 6-0 lead late in the second quarter until they capped an 11-play, 58-yard drive with Alex Ross 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end Craig Weick with 33 seconds left in the first half. Austin Cain ran in the two-point conversion and the Chanticleers had a 14-0 halftime lead. It got much worse for Richmond in the third quarter. Andre Johnson scored on a 9-yard run to give Coastal a 21-0 lead at the 12:13 mark. The Spiders answered with Strauss 76-yard touchdown pass to Brian Brown to pull within 21-7. But Henderson broke off a 50-yard touchdown run on the Chanticleers ensuing drive and Ross scored from 1 yard out just before the end of the quarter to push the lead to 36-8. Henderson finished with 134 yards on 19 carries and Ross was 22-for-41 for 171 yards and a touchdown, adding 52 yards on the ground. Senior linebacker Quinn Backus was dominant as he led the Coastal defense with 10 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, 1.5 tackles for losses, two pass breakups and two quarterback hurries. Richmond entered the game ranked No. 1 in the FCS on third down conversions, but the Spiders went 2-for-13. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- New Hampshire 44, Fordham 19 Durham, NH - New Hampshire has the nations top ranking and No. 1 playoff seed to motivate opponents, but the Wildcats announced they feel ready for the challenge by dispatching Fordham, 44-19, in the second round of the FCS postseason. UNH (11-1) extended its school-record winning streak to 11 games as its began its 11th straight appearance in the playoffs. The Wildcats will host eighth- seeded Chattanooga (10-3) in the national quarterfinals next weekend. The CAA Football champions had terrific offensive balance with 274 passing yards and 270 rushing yards. Nico Steriti rushed for a season-high 110 yards and a career-high four touchdowns on 14 carries to fuel the win, while quarterback Sean Goldrich passed for 240 yards and had 48 yards and a touchdown on the ground. If it wasnt for Fordham freshman sensation Chase Edmonds (208 rushing yards, 385 all-purpose yards, one touchdown), the score could have been worse for the Rams (11-3), the Patriot League champions who were coming off a first-round win over Sacred Heart. New Hampshire had six sacks of Fordham quarterback Mike Nebrich in the games first nine minutes and threatened to swamp the Rams. Jimmy Owens scored on a 51-yard run on the Wildcats first offensive play and Goldrich capped their second drive with an 8-yard scoring run on 4th-and-2 as they built a 14-0 lead in the games first 6 1/2 minutes. But two turnovers by New Hampshire kept the Rams in the game and they pulled within 14-12 in the second quarter on Edmonds 91-touchdown run and two Michael Marando field goals. The Wildcats then regained firm control of the game by halftime. Steriti scored on an 11-yard touchdown run with 3:07 left in the second quarter and Brad Prasky kicked a 30-yard field goal to end the half, pushing their lead to 24-12. Steriti scored on two more runs (1 and 7 yards) in the third quarter to sandwich around a Fordham score that was set up Edmonds 65-yard kickoff return and New Hampshire led 37-19 after three quarters. Steriti added his fourth touchdown on a 24-yard touchdown with 4:48 to play. Nebrich, averaging 312.5 passing yards per game, was held to 161 yards on 12- of-30 passes with one touchdown and one interception. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Chattanooga 35, Indiana State 14 Chattanooga, TN - The Southern Conference had a subpar season after the departure of its traditional FCS playoff teams, but new power Chattanooga clearly is as good as ever The Mocs followed the lead of junior quarterback Jacob Huesman as they gained their first playoff win with a 35-14 triumph over Indiana State in the second round. Huesman accounted for 394 yards and three touchdowns as No. 8 Chattanooga advanced to the national quarterfinals. The Mocs (10-3) will visit top-ranked and top-seeded New Hampshire (11-1) next weekend. Chattanooga has won the last two SoCon titles. Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, who won a combined nine national titles in the FCS, have left the conference for the FBS level. Huesman rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries, and completed 15-of-24 pass attempts for 241 yards and one touchdown. Keon Williams rushed for another 70 yards and a touchdown as the Mocs kept a balanced attack and outgained Indiana State (8-6) 503 yards to 178 while holding the ball for 42 minutes, 57 seconds. Chattanooga had lost its only other playoff game in 1984, but the Mocs grabbed control of the game in the first quarter. On the games third play from scrimmage, Mocs safety Semaje Kendall intercepted Indiana State quarterback Mike Perish at the Sycamores 30-yard line and returned the ball to the 3. One play later, Williams scored just one minute into the game. The Mocs balanced out the short possession with a long scoring drive, going 90 yards on 14 plays, with Huesmans 1-yard run pushing the lead to 14-0 at the 5:03 mark. Indiana State, a Missouri Valley Football Conference member coming off a playoff win against Eastern Kwentucky, cut its deficit in half on Perishs 75- yard touchdown pass to A.J. Johnson with 51 seconds left in the first quarter. But Huesmans 29-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Hudson with two minutes left in the first half pushed Chattanoogas lead to 21-7 by halftime. Huesman then capped the opening drive of the second half with a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Mocs ahead, 28-7. The drive went 84 yards over 11 plays. Chattanooga won despite place-kicker Henrique Ribeiro missing all three of his first-goal attempts. The Mocs forced three turnovers, including two interception of Perish. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Illinois State 41, Northern Iowa 21 Normal, IL - Illinois State enacted revenge for its only loss of the regular season by pounding Northern Iowa, 41-21, in a matchup of Missouri Valley Football Conference teams in the second round of the FCS playoffs. The result was surprisingly one-sided after Northern Iowa won the regular- season meeting, 42-28, at home, but fifth-seeded Illinois State (11-1) kept its two-season home winning streak intact while powering into the national quarterfinals next weekend. They will face Saturdays second-round survivor between Montana and fourth-seeded Eastern Washington. Illinois State, which has won 13 straight games at Hancock Stadium, built a 24-0 halftime lead to dispatch of UNI (9-5). Quarterback Tre Roberson finished with 382 yards and four touchdowns through the air and running back Marshaun Coprich had 148 yards and a score on the ground. Illinois State scored on its first three drives to take a commanding 21-0 lead. Roberson connected on a 6-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Meredith to cap the games opening drive and then Coprichs 29-yard run on the Redbirds second possession set up his 1-yard score to make it 14-0 with 8:16 left in the first quarter. The Redbirds third drive began midway through the first quarter and ended in the first minute of the second quarter after they went 87 yards in 15 plays with Roberson and Meredith connected on a 2-yard touchdown pass. Nick Aussiekers 45-yard field goal to end the first half pushed Illinois States lead to 24-0. The Redbirds had a 345-52 advantage in offensive yards and a 16-3 advantage in first downs in the half while holding the ball nearly twice as long as the Panthers. James OShaughnessy (four receptions, 115 yards) caught two touchdowns in the second half and joined Meredith (seven receptions, 105 yards) with over 100 receiving yards. Northern Iowa All-American David Johnson had only 48 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, but he finished with 108 yards on four kickoff returns and another 30 yards on five receptions. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Sam Houston State 37, Jacksonville State 26 Jacksonville, AL - When Sam Houston State had a 1-3 record, the Bearkats were just looking for any victory, let alone reaching the FCS playoffs. The Bearkats turned their season around and won for the second time in the playoffs on Saturday, dispatching third-seeded Jacksonville State, 37-26, as quarterback Jared Johnson accounted for four touchdowns. Sam Houston (10-4), under first-year coach K.C. Keeler, will play either Liberty or sixth-seeded Villanova in the national quarterfinals next weekend. The Bearkats, making their fourth straight playoff appearance, have won seven straight games and nine of their last 10 since falling to Division II Colorado State-Pueblo on Sept. 13. They shared the Southland Conference title with Southeastern Louisiana and then eliminated the Lions in the playoff first round a week ago. Johnson completed 13-of-19 pass attempts for 161 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. The Bearkats trailed 26-24 at halftime after Jacksonville States Connor Rouleau ended the first half with a 42-yard field goal. Johnson then connected with LaDarius Brown for a second touchdown pass - this time a 49-yarder - to put Sam Houston ahead, 30-26, with 8:03 left in the third quarter. The Bearkats defense stopped Jacksonville State (10-2) on downs at the Sam Houston 43. On the sixth play of the Bearkats ensuing drive, Jalen Overstreet scored on a 33-yard run to push the lead to 37-26. Overstreet finished with 83 yards on 10 carries. Jacksonville State, the Ohio Valley Conference champion whose 10-game winning streak ended, outgained Sam Houston 513 yards to 402, but quarterback Eli Jenkins threw two interceptions in addition to rushing for one touchdown and passing for one. Gamecocks tailaback DaMarcus James carried the ball 19 times for 128 yards and a touchdown. Running back Keshawn Hill caught Johnsons other touchdown pass. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- FCS Playoff Second Round All Times ET Montana (9-4) at No. 4 seed Eastern Washington (10-2), 4:30 p.m. Liberty (9-4) at No. 6 seed Villanova (10-2), 4:30 p.m. Authentic NHL Jerseys . The Vancouver coach and an announced sellout crowd of 18,910 watched in dismay as the Canucks lost 7-4 to the New York Islanders on Monday night by squandering a 3-0 lead in the third period. Cheap NHL Jerseys . Its the games against the leagues struggling franchises that have proved to be an issue. https://www.cheapnhljerseysjustwholesale.com/ .C. -- Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith has been ruled out for Sundays game against the Atlanta Falcons. I spent the past weekend at the 2014 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston. It was my fifth straight year attending and, as always, there are many interesting matters discussed as it pertains to the use of statistics in sports. While analytics if the focus of the conference, there are always some discussions that are more wide-ranging in nature, so Ill try to cover as much as I can, with this write-up providing a more general overview of the conference before I post the second part, which will focus more specifically on the hockey content. NBA COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was impressive in a one-on-one interview with Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell grilled Silver and, for the most part, he was forthcoming with his responses. Now, when Gladwell hammered away at the greed of some NBA owners, foremost among his concerns was the Dolans in New York, getting tax breaks as they arent required to pay property taxes on Madison Squate Garden, one of the most valuable pieces of land in Manhattan. For as much grief as Gladwell takes in some quarters for the pop science in his books, he was a great choice to interview Silver because he wasnt afraid to ask the commish difficult questions, yet did so, with follow-up queries, without the interview getting uncomfortable or contentious. Some of that goes to Silver, who was forthcoming in his responses or, when defending the tax positions of billionaire owners, was clearly speaking from the commissioner playbook. There are times its transparently difficult to defend the indefensible. BASKETBALL ANALYTICS Silver talked about the removing disincentive for teams to win and this was a big topic at the conference. It speaks to the situation in which the NBA finds itself this year, with a handful of teams competing for the title and perhaps twice as many aiming for a top lottery pick. Houston Rockets GM, and Conference Co-Chair, Daryl Morey plainly stated that the NBA has to find a way to eliminate tanking incentive. New Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive joked with Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, on a panel about Ownership Perspective, that Silver said the Celtics were tanking, to which Grousbeck quickly replied, "And what you are you doing?" The Kings are currently 23rd in the NBA standings, the Celtics 27th. Former Toronto Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo even caused a stir when he admitted to tanking. "I tried to tank a couple of years ago," he said on the In-Game Innovations panel. "It didnt work." Colangelo made it clear that he never told player or coaches not to do their best to win but, as anyone seeing how teams are constructed would understand, management can put together a roster that is less likely to win games. Former coach Stan Van Gundy is not a fan of the tanking. He ripped the Philadelphia 76ers, with Sixers GM Sam Hinkie in the audience, saying, "What the 76ers are doing is embarrassing. Cant put out that lineup and think they can win." Boston Celtics Assistant GM Mike Zarren, a panelist every year at the conference, has proposed a wheel format that would replace the current draft and its a fascinating theory, definitely one that would remove the incentive for tanking, but there are practical issues at play too. Silver loved the idea initially, but acknowledged that there will be some hurdles to overcome if that kind of solution is going to happen in reality. Silver also mentioned how NBA players have approached the league about a mid-season break for all, noting how All-Stars dont get a break and the grind of the season can be taxing on the leagues best players, logging more than 30 minutes a night, night after night. This was particularly interesting, given all the recent complaints in NHL circles about the Olympic break. The most shocking admission from Silver was that he acknowledged how gambling and point spreads increase interest in games that might otherwise be mismatches. This is no secret to the world at large, but the nature of all league commissioners has been to dismiss out of hand the benefits that the league might receive from gambling. When discussing how much teams ought to be spending on analytics, Colangelo put the range between $250,000 and $500,000 per year. When you consider the size of contracts in professional sports, its not unreasonable to think that an analytics department could lead to decisions that would save at least that much. One of the great developments in terms of NBA statistics is the emergence of SportVu data. Among the countless things tracked by the SportVu cameras, they can track how far a player has run -- Trail Blazers SF Nicolas Batum is up to nearly 160 miles for the season -- and Grantlands Zach Lowe, moderating the Basketball Analytics panel, wonders if that kind of data will really prove to have value in terms of injury prevention. The detail of this tracking data is so new that its difficult to know, but its easy enough to see how, someday, knowing the specifics as it relates to a players workload could result is more efficient usage in order to reduce the chances of injury. To counter, Van Gundy vehemently disagreed with playing time limits because he felt it was a lot of guesswork and cited the Washington Nationals decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg in 2012 as a random determination. "How did they come up with 160 innings," asked Van Gundy. "Why not 170?" Van Gundy insisted that professional sports come with a risk of injury and that not playing obviously reduces that risk, but only because no one will get hurt when they arent actually participating. As the old-school NBA guy, Van Gundy also insisted that there is no substitute for watching film, and that the only numbers he trusts are ones that his own people keep. The trouble with this approach, of course, is that if the only statistics that matter are kept by internal sources, then biases are more apt to creep in than if it is a league-wide measurement. No one pointed this out to Van Gundy, but it could also be said that the value of statistics isnt so much in learning more about your own team. It can certainly help, but helping to provide value and context for players throughout the league is where statistics can provide much more information. As ESPNs Director of Production Analytics Dean Oliver noted on another panel (re: college football playoffs), "A human can see a game better than the numbers can, but the numbers can see every game." While I use some of Van Gundys comments to echo a point made by Steve Kerr, the former Suns GM, who noted that getting buy-in from some coaches remains an issue, its not as if Van Gundy is a total dinosaur and its enitrely possible that a coach views the game differently than those tasked with building long-term. As Van Gundy stated, "When youre coaching, youre coaching to your personnel, not to an analytics philosophy," and theres some measure of truth in that, because theres no point in having an analytics stategy that doesnt fit your personnel. As part of the In-Game Innovations Panel, George Karl was quite progressive in his thinking, but acknowledged that he had a track record that allowed him more flexibility, contrasting with younger coaches who can get crucified (by media, fans) for trying to be innovative. Misaligned goals is a common problem for professional sports teams and its part of the reason that there was a panel at Sloan this year entitled Inside the War Room: Building Alignment from Front Office to Field. It featured Atlanta Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff and Heach Coach Mike Smith and its an issue that is pervasive when it comes to applying analytics to professional sports. Its one thing to have Mark Cuban as your owner and the organization falls in line because the owner takes a clear position and its another to have a general manager trying to keep his job and a head coach trying to keep his job and they arent necessarily pulling in the same direction to achieve their respective goals. Furthermore, as Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens noted, "We live in a day and age with so much more information," he said. "The challenge is communicating that information to the team." Stevens admitted that some players, like Rajon Rondo, would devour the analytics because thats the way hes wired ("He could be here," Stevens joked.), but that other players arent wired that way, so it falls on the coaches to try to get their point across in a way that will appeal to players on their terms. Its not easy to get players to buy into stats. On my flight home from Boston, I happened to read a feature on Tom Brady during which Brady made a couple of seemingly contradictory statements, one of which was, "I would say I perform at a much higher level as a player now than I did when we won Super Bowls." The other was: "Theres one stat that matters, and thats wins." When youre a player, wins are what matter; thats the objective. What analytics will tell us, though, is that Brady is precisely right that he is playing better now than he did when New England was winning Super Bowls, the last of which came after the 2004 season. That his team hasnt won the championship does not mean that Bradys individual performance has declined, a position that is taken altogether too often when evaluating the performance of individual players. A lot that iss beyond the control of one individual goes into whether a team wins or loses a game, let alone a championship. NHL Jerseys. As the Godfather of Analytics, Bill James offered a measured response for coaches, particularly as it applied to in-game innovation. James said that coaches are control freaks, but chaos can be useful, so the best coaches learn to appreciate the chaos. This was followed by Morey telling a story about when Jeff Van Gundy was the coach in Houston and Morey had printouts for all the plays that the Rockets would run, with measures for efficiency and Morey didnt recognize the code for the most effective play, so he asked Van Gundy. "Thats Random," said the coach, "when the (called) play breaks down." Sometimes all the analysis and planning goes out the window and you just have to let the players play. BASEBALL ANALYTICS Stepping aside from the NBA for a bit, it comes as no surprise that baseball would be well-represented at a sports analytics conference. After all, baseball brought us the aformentioned Mrl James and Moneyball -- the kind of objective analysis that is at the core of modern analytics. The baseball panel, which was likely the best panel of the conference -- at least the best I saw, using my Panel Analytics -- was moderated by MLB Networks Brian Kenny and that set the right tone. Kenny favours an analytical approach and the panel included Vince Gennaro, Bill Squadron, Rob Neyer, Nate Silver (of 538 fame) and Houston Astros GM Jeff Luhnow. To no ones surprise, a panel full of analytics-oriented people had an interesting conversation about advances in analytics. Even at a point when Kenny ventured towards the idea about whether there would be a way to actually measure chemistry, he did so with some obvious skepticism and I was in full agreement with Neyers point that there are plenty of teams with great chemistry that dont win and teams with horrible chemistry -- citing the Oakland As and New York Yankees of the 1970s -- that won a lot. My take is that chemistry is the kind of thing that gets awarded to winners after the fact. Sure, the Red Sox won the World Series because they had great clubhouse chemistry, but would that chemistry have been any different if they didnt win? Luhnow later said, "There is no correlation between being a nice guy or a good person and being a good baseball player." The character issue is a tricky one when it comes to sports. No one wants to work with someone that is a pain in the butt, but if that person can help you win, sometimes the decision isnt so easy. Neyer also noted how economics havent quite caught up with analytics. "Does anyone get paid for pitch-framing," he asked, addressing one of the hottest evolutions in defensive data -- the catcher who saves his team by drawing more called strikes. Neyer asked if anyone was paying for Jose Molina saving a team 20 runs with pitch framing and while the flat answer is no, there are some players that have major league jobs because they are adept at pitch framing. Of course, their value will be eliminated once the robot umpires take over but, in the mean time, its an area in which players can gain an edge. One of the ongoing memes between those in analytics and old-school people is the idea that the spreadsheet nerds need to watch the games. Of course, no one has ever suggested teams not watch games; the real value comes in using new data and applying it while watching games. For example, Luhnow said that the Astros incorporate information from their scouts in their "best in class" projection system. He also said that the Astros have five analysts with advanced degrees and they have all spent a lot of time in the clubhouse. Baseball isnt merely about analytics for teams, though since, with all teams using them, there are fewer advantages available; they also use them to increase fan interest. Squadron noted that predictive analytics can increase fan engagement, including for use in fantasy sports. Taking a page from Adam Silver, Ill also acknowledge that predictive analytics increase the engagement of the gambling audience too. One of the pieces of new technology that MLB Digital Media showcased, was this tracking technology that would provide data on the routes run by fielders to get to batted balls, designating a straight line as 100% efficient and comparing a fielders actual route taken. With more information, there will be better ways to evaluate fielders and provide a more comprehensive value to players overall. There is so much potential with the player tracking data in the sports that are willing to use it. MORE CONFERENCE NOTES New England Patriots President Jonathan Kraft: "Statistical analysis in football primarily takes place in the offseason." Kraft also told a 2000 Draft Day story about how, in the fifth round, Bill Belichick was holding Tom Bradys name card and asking how the Patriots could pass him over, saying he provided too much value, but the Patriots had Drew Bledsoe, didnt need a quarterback, so they used their two fifth-round picks that year on TE Dave Stachelski (one catch for five yards in his career) and DT Jeff Marriott, who never played in the NFL, before relenting and letting Belichick have his guy in the sixth round. Both Kraft and Calgary Flames President Brian Burke (more on him in the hockey edition) talked about how important it was, in capped leagues, to get useful contributions from players on entry-level contracts. Former Bulls and Lakers Coach Phil Jackson: "(Rodman) had an engine that never stopped...but it took him to the bars after too." Jackson also said that the Bulls had to change the guards on Michael Jordan every practice, to build them back up, and cited Warriors PG Steph Curry as a current player that would thrive in his Triangle Offence. Dean Oliver, ESPNs Director of Production Analytics: "We dont under-estimate the intelligence of the sports fan." Some might argue the World Wide Leaders programming decisions, particularly with respect to this statement, but having a department of Production Analytics shows the kind of effort being made behind the scenes to get accurate and reliable information to the fan. Oliver was speaking on a Big Data panel with tennis great Mary-Jo Fernandez, who was emphatic in her desire to use data to provide better analysis for tennis viewers. Fernandez showed some interesting plot data on serves by Serena Williams and how when its compared to others, that Serenas dominance on the serve (and how she achieves it) can be presented in an easy-to-understand visual format. They also use heat maps showing where a player spends most of their time in the match. In the example Fernandez cited, Serena barely left the baseline the whole match. John Hollinger, who was hired away from ESPN, by the Memphis Grizzlies as their VP of Basketball Operations: "The most important part of basketball analytics is salary cap optimization." This goes back to the point about how much teams ought to be spending on analytics. In a capped league, especially, saving money on the cap affects future moves and what possibilities are open to teams. To think that analytics cant help that process is beyond my comprehension. Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff echoed Hollingers sentiments, saying that you cant separate economics from analytics in sports. During a golf presentation, there was a an interesting measure of strokes gained and lost, per shot. Presented, in part, by swing coach Sean Foley, the data showed strokes gained and lost for every shot (eg. +0.3 strokes on the tee shot, +0.1 on approach, -0.2 first putt etc.) and it revealed that its the long game that makes the bigger difference on tour. Foley also used the data to help build up Justin Rose, who was beating himself up over what he thought was a struggling approach game, only to have Foley show him the stats that said Rose was gaining more strokes on his approach than anyone on tour at the time. On this years sports betting panel, moderator Jeff Ma expressed his doubts that The Sports Boss, panelist Patrick Donovan, was using a seriously analytical approach when he started talking about getting a feel for a teams emotional level. Any time youre at an analytics conference and someone heads down the road discussing emotion, psychology etc. there are going to be a certain number of eye rolls because no one knows how to quantify that information. My experience has been that kind of thing gets awarded retroactively (ie. winners are determined to have played harder, with more emotion, etc.) Las Vegas Hotel Superbook Manager Jay Kornegay: "You guys might be very disappointed if I told you how we came up with some of these lines." Kornegay said that they dont use a complicated computer algorithm to determine lines. They have a group of handicappers in-house and they come up with the line as a group but, basically, its on feel. As Kornegay noted, "We (bookmakers) get paid for being close." More Kornegay: The Super Bowl line is geared toward public money while the rest of the year is against the sharps. Check back soon for my piece on Hockey at the 2014 Sloan Sports Analytics Conference! Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. ' ' '

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